As we near the end of January, most of us will find our new year’s resolutions slipping away – they’re too difficult, too time consuming. But some are easier than you think. It all depends on your why. And the why for being less wasteful in 2023 is pretty compelling.
Colossians 1:16 tells us ‘All things have been created through him and for him and hold together in him’. As Christians, we are called to care for God’s creation, consuming only what we need and minimising our impact on the Earth.
It takes a bit of effort to wrench ourselves from social norms of endless consumption, but we must. We can’t take from the Earth indefinitely – it just won’t work. So we’ve put together a list of ways that all of us can be less wasteful in 2023, one toss at a time.
Be An Eco-Friendly Foodie
Anyone can plan for an eco-friendlier grocery shop and ensure your food scraps are properly disposed of and save time, money and excess waste.
‘Never grocery shop while hungry’ is good advice.
When we shop without a plan—or when our stomach has an ulterior motive—it’s easy to buy the wrong things and end up with a fridge full of food that goes off before you get to cook it.
Buy In Season
Fruits and vegetables flourish at different times of the year, and shopping in-season will often mean your produce is healthier, cheaper and tastes better. If you want to buy less packaged food, avoid the middle aisles of the shopping centre where most of the plastic is.
Preserve your Produce
Overripe fruit is an opportunity, not a problem – bananas can become delicious muffins, and strawberries and apricots will make a great jam or marmalade. Google has thousands of recipes to preserve or transform your fruit into a new, delicious form. Vegetable scraps on the other hand go straight into the freezer. Once you’ve built up a good collection, homemade vegetable stock is your reward.
Don’t waste those Scraps
Whether you want a giant, wormy composting heap in your backyard or a compact Bokashi composter on your kitchen bench, composting is possible for anyone – many local councils even offer vouchers or workshops for beginners. Use it to feed your plants, or donate it to a community garden, farm or school. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even make tea with it. Um.
Clean Up Your Closet
I’m sure you’ve had that moment of looking at your wardrobe and thinking ‘I have nothing to wear’—but chances are, there are gems hidden beneath the clutter that are both sustainable and more stylish—and if there aren’t, there are things you can do to change that.
Consider what you already have
Sort your clothing into keep, mend, sell/donate and toss categories and consider the clothes on your toss pile—are the fabrics poor quality and falling apart? Were they trendy for only one season? Commit to buying less clothing like that this year.
Make your clothing last
Knowing how to fix buttons, hems, and zippers—or knowing someone who can—are handy skills that save many an item from landfill. If you’re feeling creative, try upcycling your clothes—turn a dress into a top and skirt, or tie-dye an old shirt. Undies can become cleaning rags (just make sure you clean them first!), jeans can become short—the possibilities can make a different world, literally.
Become an Ethical Shopper
Now it’s time to shop smarter—make a list of items you’d like to buy and stick to it, rather than buying on impulse. Try to thrift or borrow before buying new and check the Ethical Fashion Guide to ensure you’re supporting a brand that puts people and planet before profit.
Taking time to explore your wardrobe, adapt your shopping habits and care for your clothes will create great outfits just by shopping your own wardrobe.
Live That Sustainable Life
I know—travel is a sore subject for most of us. But I’m not just talking about the big holidays. We travel every day to work, school, to socialise, for sport. Taking five minutes to consider where you’re going and what you might need can make a huge impact on the waste you generate.
- If you find yourself buying bottled water, take your reusable water bottle with you when you leave the house.
- Does your morning ritual involve ducking down to the café for a coffee? Take a keep cup with you.
- Regularly eating on the go? Pack reusable cutlery and say no to single use plastic.
- If you can, take public transportation instead of driving to reduce your carbon imprint.
When we do get to take to the skies, planning out how to get around using the least amount of air travel reduces your environmental impact. Look for an ‘eco-friendly’ tour options, and always reduce the number of (plastic!) souvenirs you buy along the way.
Occasions where gifts are involved can create huge volumes of waste. To reduce waste from gifting, it’s important to set expectations with loved ones early—whether it be setting a smaller budget, giving second hand or handmade gifts, doing a Secret Santa next Christmas, or using creative (reused/newspapers/dishtowels) wrapping paper like newspaper, dishtowels, or wrapping recycled from the year before.
Special occasions almost always happen over a meal, and if your family is like mine there are lots of leftovers at the end. Encourage everyone to bring containers to take leftovers home or freeze whatever you can, so that as little as possible ends up in the bin.
When we examine our consumption habits and learn to be more responsible about disposing of waste, we all reap the benefits. Plus, you’ll save money, cupboard space, guilt—and the planet. But this article only scratches the surface. How will you be less wasteful in 2022?